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Italy blocks joint text on trade, defense at EU summit

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte arrives at an European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte blocked the adoption of European Union statements on trade and defense at an EU summit on Thursday, to put pressure on his peers to agree to Italy’s stance on migration, European diplomats said.

Conte blocked the joint statements which contained criticism of U.S. trade tariffs and support for retaliatory measures, saying that he could approve them only when the 28 leaders of the bloc had found a common ground on all topics under discussion at the summit, notably on migration.

Conte’s unusual move drew criticism from some governments. “Some leaders were surprised by this”, an EU diplomat said.

Italy wants more help from EU countries in dealing with the arrival of migrants.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio and Andreas Rinke